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United Way of Lancaster County


New correctional facility project has entered programming phase

The Lancaster County Prison, left, and the site where its replacement is to be built. (Source: OUL | Lancaster County)

TranSystems Corp. has begun the schematic design process for Lancaster County’s new correctional facility, Warden Cheryl Steberger told the Prison Board at its monthly meeting on Thursday.

“A draft facility program is currently being developed and reviewed,” she said. It will be presented to the commissioners and the Prison Board, and there will be a public listening session before a vote by the commissioners to accept it, Steberger said.

As Commissioner John Trescot explained, the programming process involves turning identified needs for beds, mental health services, health care, food service and so on into space allocations.

It’s still very early in the overall design process, he said, but “the next couple of months will be interesting.”

Commissioner Josh Parsons emphasized the importance of this phase: “It’s very important for all of us to pore over every detail very carefully.”

Steberger reported that she and others had recently toured a brand new prison facility in Uniontown, Fayette County, for the purpose of research. She echoed the importance of even the smallest decisions, saying: “When I talk about details I mean everything from the handles on a cell door, to the way the yard is sloped, to the doors on a shower, to the location of a TV in a housing unit.”

Thursday’s meeting was otherwise routine, lasting only about 20 minutes. Steberger reported the prison’s population count is 765, right in line with 2022’s count from the same time, which was 766.

Investigator Justin Hackler gave the operations report, commending the chosen officers of the month and applauding the prison’s K9 team for outstanding work. Two vacancies at the position of sergeant and one at the position of captain remain unfilled.

Administrative Services Director Arla Brown reported that the prison had received preliminary findings from its “Title 37” inspection, a state inspection conducted every one to two years. It has 30 days to address the necessary changes, most of which relate to building maintenance.

“We don’t foresee any issues,” she said. “It’s just a process that we have to go through.”

Deputy Warden Joe Shiffer reported the prison has passed its Prison Rape Elimination Act audit, making it PREA-compliant for the next two years. General Services Director Bob Devonshire said the volume of work orders has been trending downward, indicating the team has finally caught up with maintenance of the aging facility.

Guests were invited to make public comment, but none chose to do so.